Do you remember your chou chou, the pillow, bolster or blanket that you hug to sleep as a toddler?

Many of us sleep with our first chou chou for years, never mind if it has turned musty and moldy. Some remain inseparable from these objects of comfort even in their teenhood and adulthood.

If your chou chou wasn’t made by your mother or grandmother, chances are it could have been the labor of love from chou chou makers like Mdm Tan Mui Kiat.

A 60-year-old grandmother, Mdm Tan has been making and selling chou chou for 20 years. Her business at Beo Crescent Market remains brisk.

“Yesterday, a grandmother came to buy three sets for her grandchildren,” Mdm Tan shared in Mandarin.

She said her customers sometimes buy her handmade pillows ($10 each) and bolsters ($12 each) for adults, not newborns.

“Previously, a boy came to buy 10 chou chous for his girlfriend. Women generally like such things,” Mdm Tan recalled.

Having learnt the skill of making a chou chou from her mother, Mdm Tan shared that it is time consuming to make a chou chou.

First, she has to collect beansprout husks from her sister, who sells beansprouts at the market.

She then sun-dries the beansprout husks for 2 to 3 months. During the rainy season, the sunning process takes a longer time.

After the sun-drying, Mdm Tan then fills her pre-sewn pillow cases with the husks.

She gets her colorful fabric for the pillow cases from People’s Park Complex. If there’s leftover cloths after making her sister’s clothes, she also recycles them.

Typically, Mdm Tan makes chou chou when she has pockets of free time while helping her sister with her business at the market.

She advised against washing the chou chou. Sunning it is the best way to remove its dampness.

As for the yellow stains on the old chou chou, we probably just have to live with them until we’re ready to bid them farewell.

“There are stains on my grandchildren’s chou chou already, but they’re still keeping them.” Mdm Tan beamed as she shared about how she makes all the chou chou(s) for her grandchildren.

Mdm Tan also added that her daughter still keeps her chou chou and doesn’t have any intentions of throwing it away.